T&T women’s rugby sevens team led by captain Ayana Skeete left yesterday for Ireland ahead of the World Rugby Women's Sevens Olympic Repechage in Dublin. The Olympic qualifying tournament will take place from June 25-26.
The local team which will also be well equipped with last year’s “Player of the Year” Ornella George, and seasoned players Dalia Jordan-Brown, Akila Lowman, Kenisha Vincent and Onica George, will stop off in Kilkenny first to compete in the Marble City 7’s Rugby Tournament on Saturday as a warmup before heading to Dublin.
Skeete with the support of vice-captain Nicolette Pantor will seek to guide the ruggerwomen against some tough competition, playing alongside teams from Kazakhstan, China, Hong Kong, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Ireland, Samoa, Cook Islands, Uruguay and Argentina for the final coveted place at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
The winner of the tournament will join New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Colombia, USA, France, Fiji, Japan and hosts Brazil at Rio 2016 in August.
Two teams from each pool of four progress into the quarter-finals where it will be a straight shoot-out for progression into the final. Only the winners will join the 11 other sides in Rio for the historic return of rugby to the Olympic Games programme after a break of 92 years. The women’s sevens at the Games will take place from August 6-8 in Deodoro Olympic Park.
T&T will match skills against Portugal, China and host Ireland in Pool C. The local team will kick off day one at the UCD Bowl at 8.30 pm (T&T time) when it faces Ireland.
If the women’s unit is successful, it will be the first time that T&T has a team sport qualify for the biggest sporting event in the world.